Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Fence

For the past several days my neighbor and I had been building a new fence to replace the one that fell down a few weeks ago and yesterday we finally finished. With all the fires going on the air has been very smokey which meant wearing face masks the whole time. On the bright side, the smoke helped reduce the heat of the summer sun so instead of being over 100 degrees it was only in the 90s. Feels good to finally be done and I think it turned out pretty well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Office Ceiling Fan

I installed a ceiling fan in my office yesterday. It's something I had been thinking about doing recently because the room gets about 5-10 degrees hotter than the rest of the house, and with this 100+ degree weather we're having the rest of the house doesn't get below 84 degrees. I got the fan for free from someone on NextDoor.com then picked up a bracket from Lowes. The hardest part was crawling through the attic with it being around 102 degrees outside... a floor-less attic with blown-in insulation and spiderwebs everywhere. Three times I had to crawl through the attic because the first time I found that plastic box for the existing light fixture was nailed into a stud so I had to go back and get a hammer, then I realized I forgot to bring drill bits so had to go back and get those. Once the attic work was complete I found that the hole for the existing light fixture was too small for the new metal electrical box so I had to enlarge it with a utility knife. By that point my arms were exhausted so I had a tough time lining up the screw holes of the electrical box with the metal bracket, but once I got it locked in everything else was easy. Hopefully this will help cool things down.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cutting Cable


Hard to believe a full year has passed since I last called Charter Spectrum to cancel our cable service. Each time the promo period ends and our rates go up I have to call to get put on another promotional rate. I'm sure many of you know that drill. Last year they initially said there were no promotions available for us so I talked it over with the wife and we decided to really cancel. That's when they offered us a better deal than any before: $75/month for internet, local channels, and 10 cable channels. Of course fees kicked that number up a bit, and those fees increased throughout the year so we were eventually paying almost $90/month.

Part of our promotional rate ended this month kicking our bill up to almost $100/month, so I called like normal but this time they didn't offer any new promotions. They simply asked why I wanted to cancel and when I told them it was just too much money they went ahead and accepted my cancellation request. I wasn't expecting that but I'm glad they did because it feels like the right time. We hadn't really been watching anything on cable for the past several weeks except for having shows on in the background like Futurama reruns or whatever. I liked having that but it's so not worth $30+/month. When we do have time to watch TV again we'll go to Amazon Prime streaming and the various networks apps, and if we run out of content there maybe we'll get Netflix for $11/month.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

New Serpentine Belt

I put a new serpentine belt in my car yesterday. I didn't have the correct tool I needed, a 19mm torque socket wrench, but thanks to Nextdoor.com I found a nearby neighbor who let me borrow one. This was my first time changing a serpentine belt and it went a lot easier than I was expecting, taking less than half an hour. Once I was done I started up my car and there was no more squealing!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Closing of Kmart and Sears

Our local Kmart and Sears stores are both closing, which is kind of sad. They weren't the best stores in the world... or in the town... but I enjoyed getting free and heavily discounted stuff with the Shop Your Way program. I would usually play their sweeps games in the evening while watching TV and end up with about $10-$15 every couple weeks, enough to purchase various household necessities. Sometimes they would offer Surprise Points, which they now call Free Cash, that would get me other stuff for free or very cheap. The program wasn't that great and often had restrictions that weren't listed, but it was still nice to get free toilet paper or dish soap or whatever. Twice I even ended up really winning the sweepstakes! The first time I won some exercise equipment like a weight set, mini trampoline, jump rope, kettle bells, an exercise watch, and probably some other things I can't think of. I kept and used some of the things, gave others away, and sold the rest.

The other sweepstakes I won was called the SHC ONLY: FOR THE HOLIDAYS and the prize for that was a $100 in points... except that they never gave me the points and I assume none of the other 4 winners got theirs either. When checking the status of the sweeps it used to say that it was pending as they were contacting the winners, but then it changed to "We didn't get enough completed entries into this Sweepstakes within the time allotted, therefore a winner will not be chosen". The official rules don't mention anything about a minimum number of entries so I call shenanigans! The Shop Your Way (info@shopyourway.com) people said I needed to contact sweeps@searshc.com, so I did. Many, many times. But I never received a response and info@shopyourway.com had no other contact information and wouldn't do anything to help. So that was frustrating and disappointing... kind of like the closing of these stores.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Windows Reinstall

The screen back plate for my laptop arrived last Wednesday so I was finally able to get that put back together. I then started preparing to do a fresh Windows reinstall on my main PC because it has been acting up lately. First I had to figure out how to get all of my different development environments set up on my laptop like they were set up on my PC so that after the reinstall I would know how to do it, and in case something went very wrong with my PC I would still have my development environments set up and available. Certain programs had to be installed in a certain order with specific SDK versions and environment variables had to be set and updated at specific points. It was a huge pain but I got it done and documented the entire process so I could replicate it once I finished reinstalling Windows. The Windows reinstall took quite a while with all the backing up and install and updates and reinstalling all my programs, but it went pretty smooth and my PC is up and running again and seems to be working well.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Warming Up?

A little over a week ago it got cold enough to warrant kicking on the heater. Unfortunately, when I tried to do so nothing seemed to happen. I heard the familiar click that occurs when the heater first turns on, but after that there was nothing. I then tried to manually turn the fan on, and that didn't come on either. We had this same problem back in March and had someone come from Service 1 Heating & Air Conditioning come to service it. He said something had overheated which flipped a switch, sort of like a breaker, and that it had to be manually reset. He then swapped it out for an automatic one that wouldn't need to be manually reset if it happened again. He checked that it was working before he left, but then a couple days later when we tried to use it again it wouldn't turn on. I was going to call him back in the morning but by the time morning rolled around the heater was working.

I thought maybe the same thing would happen this time so we waited a couple days to see if the heater would kick in. On the morning of the third day I went up into the attic and did the pilot light reset procedure to see if that would help. The reset procedure didn't seem to help, but while I was up there I noticed the heater was warm which got me to thinking that perhaps it was only the fan, not the heater, that wasn't working right. Even with the heater off I couldn't manually switch on the fan; every time I tried, nothing happened. So I thought maybe the overheating of the heater was due to the fan not blowing air through it. I turned off the heater, and later in the afternoon just before calling Service 1 Heating & Air Conditioning I tried turning on the fan one more time, and this time it worked! I still called because I don't think the guy fixed the actual problem back in March. I got their answering service so I left my name, address, and phone number. As of today I still have not received a call back.